This Couple Graduated From Middle School Together 16 Years Ago and Now They Got Their Master’s Degrees Together

May 27, 2018
10:02 AM

Jaynice Del Rosario (a Latino Rebels contributor) and Daniel Morales-Armstrong, both 29, grew up together in the Bronx and graduated from M.S. 180 middle school 16 years ago.

Last week, they both graduated from their Master’s degrees together, her first and his second, from Columbia University.

“One of our greatest blessings is dreaming together, bringing those dreams to life and becoming the examples we needed to see when we were growing up,” Del Rosario said.

The couple decided to apply for grad school while Morales-Armstrong visited Del Rosario in Ethiopia when she was in the Peace Corps from 2013 to 2015.

“We sat side by side in a hotel room, working on our grad school applications,” Del Rosario says. “We envisioned going to the same school and graduating together again, and we did.”

They both got accepted to Columbia and eventually graduated together in May 2018.

I remember us sitting in a hotel room side by side in Ethiopia working on our grad school applications. We said we’d go to the same school and graduate together, and we did. We graduated together in 8th grade but this time I got my first Masters and he his second. I can’t explain the joy of making dreams real with this man. Everything we dream together we bring to life and it has been one of my biggest blessings. Here’s to many, many, more my love!!! #love #graduation #columbia #callusmasters #2018 #latinogradcaps #afrolatinolove #bestfriends @hip_latina @aintilatina @perolike @palantelatinx @latinorebels @lagaleriamag @remezcla @latinarebels @afropunk @blavity @columbiaalumni @couples_magazine @humansofny @blacklatinamovement @becauseofthem @latinovoices #storiesofus

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The couple —who will marry in El Yunque National Rainforest in Puerto Rico next June— were friends in middle school. They eventually went to different high schools, but stayed in touch because they were in the same college prep program. Their friendship continued through college (he went to SUNY Albany, she went to Wesleyan) but they didn’t start dating until after college.

After finishing school in 2012, Del Rosario needed help getting a job, and Morales-Armstrong offered to help her get a job at the Bronx Institute, where he worked. It was also the same non-profit where they received college prep courses when they were in high school.

“We started having lunches together and realized we had a lot more in common than we thought we had for the last ten years,” Morales-Armstrong says.

“We were in the same 7th grade class together, and I remember him as being both the class clown and the brightest student in the class,” Del Rosario remembers with a laugh.

“I didn’t have patience for him then. I told him that he wasn’t funny. And I really didn’t like that he made all these jokes and still got better grades than me, so I was a little annoyed,” she said.

“But now, she’s alright with it,” Morales-Armstrong said.

Morales-Armstrong, who is Puerto Rican, received a Master’s degree in African-American Studies. His thesis is titled “Black DiaspoRicans: Invisibilized Bodies and the Call to Actionable Scholarship.” In the Fall, he’ll begin pursuing his PhD in Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He works as a college counselor and teaches Afro-latinidad at a local high school.

Del Rosario, who is Dominican, received a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a focus on economic development and gender policy. She works in non-profit consulting and does some freelance writing as well.

Del Rosario and Morales-Armstrong think their modern relationship (they both work, and Del Rosario travels abroad frequently) serves as an example for kids in their community.

“In youth work, it’s important to set that example of a couple that has that level of support that we have,” Del Rosario said. “It brings me joy that we have it and that we’re an example to young people.”

Morales-Armstrong thinks that their example also shows to challenge machismo in relationships.

“Young men hear the way I talk about Jaynice and our relationship,” he says. “It’s important for them to see a relationship where the two people are equals.”

“To me, I never grew up seeing a relationship like the one we have,” Del Rosario said. ‘We have the relationship that I admire.”


Claudia Irizarry Aponte is an journalist for Futuro Media, producers of NPR’s Latino USA. A native of Puerto Rico, Claudia is a recent graduate of CUNY’s J-School. She tweets from @clauuia.